Chapter 11 Five Minutes to Flush

Bash Banks’ POV

I met up with Rico downtown the night before about the “progress” I made on getting Cypher’s technology for him. Tim and I had grown “closer”, and he was very forthcoming with information on what management discussed regarding the issues and bugs with the application and what they were doing to address the problems.

“Do you have what I need?” Rico asked me.
“No, but I’m getting close,” I tried to reassure him.


“Maybe I was wrong about you, Bash. Maybe it’s best if you were to stay on at Jupiter and the let the chips fall where they may,” said Rico. Behind his dark tinted shades, I could see his eyes; it felt as if they were piercing through me.


“No, you weren’t wrong; I need more time.”


“You have seventy-two hours,” replied Rico and walked off.

*****************************

After my conversation with Rico, I could think of nothing else. I was invited to Tim’s house this weekend; I’d never been there before. If I were going to get a look at Cypher’s full software, I would need access to Tim’s personal computer, which I knew he worked on.

The best-guaranteed means I would get that access was to write sophisticated code for a kernel-mode rootkit. I won’t get into the intricate details, basically, the rootkit I create, I can save to a USB and upload it to Tim’s computer. I would be able to see all his internal files, every system, application, correspondence; in other words everything.


The code I’m writing isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and if I want my kit to go undetected, it had to be darn near perfect. Tim doesn’t have the skills and know-how to find such a sophisticated program within his internal system. It won’t destroy his files, just give me the information I needed.


I had worked around the clock in my home office to make this all happen. I even called out from work to make sure I had the program completed in time.  I’d shed too much blood, sweat, and tears over the years to just throw away opportunity after opportunity for people who were less qualified than I was, people who didn’t have my talents. This is where it ends.

******************************


Tim had invited GG and me over for a backyard BBQ this weekend. I’m told Kaden and Charles from work were also going to be there as well. While I wasn’t looking forward to breaking bread with them after spending five days a week together, I had to get access to Tim’s home computer to upload the rootkit I created. It was the only way I would be able to get full access to Cypher’s files undetected. I had written some pretty complicated code; even Tim would know nothing about. It’s not anything that would necessarily hurt him, but I had to what I had to do, Rico made no secret of that.

I told GG not to worry; that we would not have to stay too long, but she said she looked forward to meeting more of my coworkers and she liked Cheyanne and Tim. I still don’t understand how or why.

Tim and Cheyanne lived in Jones Landing, a small city halfway between San Myshuno and Willow Creek. Their house sat on a quiet street lined by single-story homes with nicely kept yards and green cut grass. It was a little warmer than usual for this time of year. The neighborhoods kids were running around shooting each other with Bazooka blasters. It was rare you even saw kids outside the home; usually, they were glued to some video game or computer, much different than how I grew up.


Cheyanne swung the front door open only seconds after I rung the bell. “Hey Bash and GG! Thank you for coming!” she exclaimed and leaned over to embrace us in a tight hug.


“It’s so nice to see you too. I brought some dessert, it’s from a Brazilian bakery,” said GG. Cheyanne gasped. “Oh thank you! This was lovely of you. Please come out back; everyone’s outside.”

We walked through the living room which drew on Cheyanne’s artsy aesthetic. The best I can describe it is as bohemium meets shabby chic meets contemporary.

When Tim first told me where he lived, I was surprised it was in Jones Landing. I knew he didn’t live in San Myshuno, but I assumed he had a condo in some high rise in downtown New Crest. What I’ve found out about Tim over the course of the last couple of weeks during our new found “friendship” is that he doesn’t have expensive taste. He’s preppy, and he comes from money, but he’s rather simple, basic, and not very cultured.


We were greeted by Charles and his wife, Jessica, and Kaden and his girlfriend June. I had seen them at a company picnic in the past but never bothered to greet them formally.

“Bash! It’s super of you to come! Did you find the place okay?” asked Tim, turning around from the grill.
“Yes, my GPS found it easily. Uh, nice house. I thought for some reason you lived in the city.” Tim was carefully flipping burgers and what looked like some tofu vegetable kabobs over the coals.


“Nope, I’m afraid not. Maybe you’re thinking of when I first moved out here. I used to live in New Crest, but once I met Cheyanne, we found a nice little place and decided to mover here. I already work in the biggest and busiest city in the region. I don’t like to deal with the hustle and bustle when I’m away from the office,” he laughed.


Personally, I preferred the city life. There was nothing better than living in Art of The City. Uptown, where Rico lived, was the most expensive borough, but my area had the best attractions, and a lot of young professionals lived there. I could do my shopping, visit my tailor, catch a show, grab dinner, all within a five-block radius.


I glanced over at GG conversing with June, Jessica, and Cheyanne. They were just as enamored with her as Cheyanne was on their first meeting. They were all pretty casually dressed in their backyard hipster fashions or tanks and cut off shorts, a vast difference to GG’s designer short length halter dress. It was worthy of a more upscale terrace wine tasting, but that’s how she is. One of the things I loved about GG was her impeccable style.


Cheyanne wasn’t kidding when she said she grew her own food. Their yard was mainly a garden with rows of carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, wild strawberries, and apple and lemon trees.

I looked around, everyone was engrossed in conversation about the warmer weather, what we’d all be doing on next vacations, and about a thousand other mundane topics.

Now was a good as time as any for me to put my play into action. When I asked Cheyanne where the bathroom was, she directed me down the hall to the first door on the right.


I reentered the house, carefully shutting the glass door behind me. I peered over my shoulder, Tim was occupied on the grill, and Cheyanne was tending to everyone, making sure they had enough lemonade and cucumber water.


I headed down the main toward the backrooms. I stopped at the first room on my right. The door was slightly ajar.

I peeked inside and could see Tim’s backpack he brought with him to work every day, a guitar, and an old camera I knew Tim liked to use for his photography.


I took a deep breath and pulled out the USB flash drive with the rootkit. I quickly walked over to Tim’s computer, which to my benefit was on. There was no screensaver needing a passcode that I could easily crack, just a view of the desktop. I scoffed. Tim sat on multi-million dollar software like Cypher but didn’t take the proper precautions to secure it.


I inserted the drive and waiting for the kit to upload. I wouldn’t be able to see all of Cypher and all of Tim’s files until I went home. I wasn’t interested in any personal files he had on there, but my mission was clear: if I wanted Rico to bring me along, I would have to get Cypher for him. Technically no one was “stealing” the information, for whoever Rico was consulting with on a takeover, everything that belonged to Jupiter would belong to the company who took over. I didn’t know all the details of it, but I’m familiar enough with how takeovers work.


I only had about five minutes for the kernel to install and flush out any trace that it was there in the first place. Waiting for the time to pass, seemed like the longest five minutes of my life.

Finally, the kit installed and I ran another clandestine program to remove any signs that it was on the pc. I designed a program so crafty, that if the kernel was detected, you could not tell where the source generated. There are all kinds of ways one could get a rootkit on their pc, and most people don’t even know about it.


Fucking Rutgers, number 45 on the top schools for computer science. UPenn, number 15, you see the difference? Tim if you can’t even be smart enough to secure your shit, you need to pack it up because you’re not capable of playing this game. Leave it to us grown men, and not little boys.


Mission accomplished. I slipped out of Tim’s office and easily as I slipped in and headed back outside. I could let Tanner know I had what his boss needed. Now, all I had to do was wait on Rico.

*******************************

There wasn’t a lot I could do once my mom invited GG over a Sunday cookout. She had answered my cell the other day when my mom called. She then struck up a ten-minute conversation with GG and insisted that the family would love to meet her.

I wasn’t quite ready to take GG around my parents and siblings. I hadn’t brought a girl home in quite a few years. GG had asked if my family would have an issue with her not being black. I told her they wouldn’t. My immediate family doesn’t really care about interracial relationships one way or another. The only thing my mom has said to me was never to think women who aren’t black were better for merely being non-black. Yes, I have individual preferences, I like what I like, but I don’t agree with degrading women who looked like my mother, sisters, aunts, and cousins.

GG is from a wealthy family in Brazil; her father was a prominent man in Rio. Her family is well-to-do and educated. A part of me is dreading her seeing where my family lives and the simple lives they have. I don’t believe GG is the type to look down her nose at anyone, even still I’d rather waited to take her to Oasis.

I unlocked the front door to my parent’s house and led GG to the backyard. I could smell greens and hammocks cooking on the stove, the smoke from the coals, and about twenty other aromas simultaneously coming from the kitchen and yard.

“Bash, why were you saying you didn’t like your family’s house? It’s nice. The way you described your neighborhood, you made it seem like a favela, which it is far from,” said GG, looking around the living room and dining area.

I opened the glass doors leading to the backyard. My nephew Drayvari and my niece Daisha were running around and played on the jungle gym my parents had set up for them.

Lorenzo and my dad were over on the grill; my mother was arranging the food on two outdoor foldout tables and bringing dishes over to the picnic tables.

Michelle and Usher were having a dance face-off to the music blasting from the stereo, while Cassie laughed and filmed them on her phone. “I don’t know Usher; I think Chelley got you beat!”

“Uncle Bash!” yelled Daisha as she ran over to and gave me a tight hug. She looked up at GG and blushed.

“Hey short-stuff. GG, this is my niece, Daisha.”

GG smiled, bending down. “Hi, it’s nice to meet you! You’re just as pretty as your uncle told me you were!”

Daisha giggled. “Thank you. I like your outfit,” she replied, shyly.


My mom whirled around, a grin spreading across her face. She crossed the yard and warmly embraced GG. “I finally have a face to a name. Welcome, baby. You sure are a pretty thing!” exclaimed Mom. Now, it was GG’s turn to blush.

“Thank you, Mrs. Banks. Your home is beautiful. I’ve seen pictures of you, and I’ve told Bash his mom looks like she could pass for his sister. I brought dessert, I hope that’s okay. It’s a Brazilian cake called Bolo Frapê da Tia Dorian, or Coconut Frapê Cake,” said GG.


“Hmm, it smells delicious, honey. Thank you so much. Come and meet the rest of the family. Don’t worry; it’s not a big family cookout, just our family, no cousins, aunts, uncles. We didn’t want to scare you!” laughed Mom.


“Oh no, I’m used to having a big family. Brazilians have big family parties,” replied GG. “Good, you’ll fit right in in the future then. Everyone, come and meet, Giavanna, Bash’s new girlfriend. That’s Orvel, Bash’s daddy, Cassie my oldest, Usher my youngest boy, Michelle the baby and my grandkids Dray and Daisha. That’s their daddy Lorenzo,” said Mom. Everyone had stopped what they were doing and approached GG and me.


“Welcome to our home, GG. We’re glad you could come,” said Dad.

“Thank you, Mr. Banks, it’s a pleasure to be here.”

Cassie, Lorenzo, Usher, and Michelle exchanged pleasantries with GG. She asked Mom if she could help her with anything. “No, baby, we’re good. ‘Food’s almost done, just come and sit. Bash, get the girl something to drink,” replied Mom as she ushered us to the sitting area of more foldout lawn furniture.


I realized I had been holding my breath because I wasn’t sure how my family would respond to GG nor her to them. But GG was always gracious and had a way of making people feel welcome and at ease.

I don’t think anyone was more shocked than I was when she struck up a conversation with my father about his career in construction.

How Dad could drone on about the science behind dry-walling and carpentry was beyond me. GG was genuinely interested and kept asking more questions. My father was eating the attention right up.


“It fascinates me to learn how things are built. I’m a lover of architecture. Brazil is home to some of the most beautiful structures in the world like the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura or the Theatro Municipal located in Cinelândia. Many of our famous buildings were constructed during the colonial period,” said GG.

“I just follow the architects and planners designs,” replied Dad. He was trying to appear modest.


“But you’re the one who puts everything together, that’s incredible,” said GG, pointedly. Dad looked very pleased that GG could recognize his “importance” when it came to installing drywall or hammer a nail through a two by four.


A short while later, Mom called us over to eat. Michelle was fascinated by GG’s tales of living in Brazil. Even though she left Rio when she was a kid, she often went back at least two to three times a year.


“I’ve always wanted to visit Rio, especially after watching the Olympics. Once I graduate high school, I want to go all sorts of places before I start college,” said Michelle, excitedly.


“Oh, you would love Rio! It’s the most beautiful place on earth. We can go to Ipanema, Sugar Loaf mountain and a lot of cool non-tourist spots only us locals know about,” winked GG.


The rest of the afternoon went on pretty much the same. Cassie and Lorenzo didn’t have too much to say to GG, but they’re naturally standoffish with people they’ve recently met, but they were cordial. Usher made a point to tell me how fine GG was and he needed to get like me, so he could “bag” a baddie too.

Mom and Michelle were eager to know about South America and GG was interested in Mom’s work as a community outreach worker at the Southeast Springs Youth and Family Center. She detailed some of the plans those in our neighborhood were trying to implement to protect the youth from falling into the gangs that have seen a resurgence in recent years.


As much as GG seemed to like my family, there was a part of me that still felt embarrassed by their lot. When my mom insisted I bring her again, I couldn’t deflect before GG happily accepted the invitation.


Overall, the cookout didn’t go over as badly as I’d thought it would, but that didn’t change the fact that I wasn’t in a rush to bring GG back to my old neighborhood.

**************************

I let Rico know I had what he needed, he directed me to meet with this associate, Tanner the following night in Belltown, an upscale downtown neighborhood. I suppose Rico didn’t want to get his hands dirty by accepting any device or correspondence from me himself.

I donned a black hoodie, sweats and hopped in the subway to meet up with Tanner. He was standing on Bell street just as Rico told me he would. I had spoken with Tanner in the past, not never at great lengths. He was the tech whiz at Thomas Global Strategies and would know exactly what to do with the USB device with Cypher’s program on it.


“This is great, Bash. Our partners will be very pleased,” said Tanner.
“What happens next?” I asked.


Tanner looked down at the device in his hand for a moment before glancing back up. “Watch the markets.”

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La Familia: The Dons of New Crest

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La Familia Noriega

 

(Trigger warning: mention of rape/sexual assault)

Carmine Noriega is originally from Ciudad Bolívar a poor and dangerous neighborhood in Bogotá, Colombia. The local cartel severely oppressed and took advantage of the people in the community and held them under a cloud of fear for misstepping out of line. The slightest offense such as not paying “protection tax” could result in losing an arm or giving up one of your children as a potential slave in servitude to Don Mateo, the leader of the cartel.

One night, The Don raped Carmine’s younger sister Fatima who was just sixteen at the time. Don Mateo brought shame on the Noriega family, and people in the neighborhood demanded that Fatima was sent to a brothel in the “Tolerance Zone” as she was now spoiled goods. Carmine’s father had long disappeared from their lives, as head of this family, he was against banishing his sister to work in any brothel or selling herself on the streets.

In the black of night only days after Fatima’s assault, Carmine broke into The Don’s parlor where he knew he smoked cigars and drank brandy late at night and garroted him right there. He then went down the hall and executed the Don’s younger brother and lieutenant, Jose, his brother Chuy, and his bodyguard, Leon. All the men, Carmine knew as personally responsible for holding Fatima down while Don Mateo raped her. Carmine would have taken out more in the household if he had the time.

Carmine had to flee the country and made sure his younger brother Hector hid their family far away in the country to escape retaliation from the Mateos. Once Carmine settled in Miami, and he knew his family was out of immediate danger, Hector smuggled them out of Colombia.
The Noriegas had arrived in Miami and set up their narcotics operation during the height of the cocaine epidemic in south Florida during the early 1980s. The old Don’s family back in Colombia still controlled most of the coca fields in the country, and Carmine needed to own land to produce product and import it. There was no way the remaining Mateos would deal with Carmine, and upon reentry, he would certainly be killed.

After being away in the US for five years, Carmine did something he never thought he’d do, go back to Colombia. But it wasn’t a pilgrimage to his homeland; he had a bigger job to do. Carmine brought along his loyal friend, Sonny Big he grew up with and had been living in Miami to Bogotá. Together, they single-handedly terminated the entire Mateo family. Carmine took control of the coca fields and brought a small portion of his old neighborhood the Mateos once ran, under his control. Now, for the first time in generations, the people who lived there weren’t in constant fear of losing loved ones over the smallest offenses such as being too poor to pay an expensive tax. Carmine left some of his men in charge to run his operation there for him. Surely he ruled with a degree of fear, just enough so people knew not to cross him, but with fairness that made the people love and respect him. Currently, Carmine is locked up in the New Crest Regional Justice Center while he awaits trial on multiple drug-related offenses.

Griselda Reyes-Noriega was born in Miami shortly after the Cuban Revolution. Her family were wealthy sugar plantation owners and prospered under the US puppet dictator Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar. Once, Fidel Castro took power on January 1, 1959, turning the country into a socialist state, the Reyes’ and many other families fled for the United States. Their land and businesses were seized by Castro, forcing them to start over practically.

Griselda’s mother was heavily pregnant with her when they touched down on US shores after fleeing by ship. Within a few years, the Reyes family was able to use the limited amount of financial resources they retained to open a real estate office. Their business grew and became very successful, thus setting off a chain of Reyes Realty offices in the metropolitan Miami area.

The Reyes’ sent their children to prestigious schools, and they were very religious and conservative. Griselda’s parents were always quite strict with her and her siblings, but she’s always had a wild spirit that couldn’t be entirely contained. Shortly before graduating from college, Carmine and Griselda met. He hadn’t been in the States for very long by that time. They fell hard and fast for each other. Carmine was different from all the upper-class Cubans within her social circle and the ones her parents preferred her to date. He was dangerous, and his upbringing was the polar opposite of Griselda’s.

Soon enough, Griselda got pregnant and she and Carmine quickly and quietly married as to not bring shame on her. Griselda was a good woman. She was kind and took care of Carmine’s family when they arrived in Miami. Her own family had practically disowned her for being with him, but they made amends later in life. Griselda had always hoped for Carmine to go legit after many successful years of building his operation. But she never interfered and kept her mouth shut. She held to one innate belief in “family first.” Always and forever.

During a family vacation spent in their home in Costa Rica, assassins sent by enemies in Colombia stormed their home in the middle of the night looking for Carmine, but he wasn’t there. They shot up the living room and master bedroom. Griselda knew what was happening the moment she heard the gunmen and quickly and courageously hid her children away in the panic room. She had gone to look for Lupita, who was just a child at the time and wasn’t in her bed. Lupita often liked to go down to the library late at night and read with her flashlight and often fell asleep on the butter soft leather sofa with a book in her hand. Tonight was no different. As Griselda frantically ran to get little Lupita, she came face to face with the gunmen. Time was up, they shot her dead, leaving her in a pool of blood. Unbeknownst to anyone, Lupita huddled away in a doorway and witnessed her mother’s execution. It was something she would never forget.

Carmine was beyond devastated and heartbroken after his wife’s death. Something changed in him that day. He would not show mercy. Carmine set upon and got revenge on Don Cardoza, the new leader in Bogata. Carmine set up hits and wiped out every last one of the Cardozas in Colombia and the family members who lived in Ft. Lauderdale. This was the second Don from Colombia who lost their life at the hands of Carmine.

Carmine Jr (Junior) Currently runs operations for out of state smaller markets and oversees the Noriega gambling interest in Las Vegas. His power is limited next to his younger sister Lupita’s. Some believe that Carmine should’ve named his oldest son as successor once he was arrested and awaiting trial. Carmine may be an unlettered man, but he’s no fool. Lupita may be a woman, but she was better than any other man when it came to the family business; she’s brilliant, competent, and a natural born leader.

Jr and Lupita have never seen eye to eye as he’s always been insanely jealous that their father favored her over him. He despises Lupita for how he feels she “humiliated” him by taking over for Carmine and shutting down his personal non-family sanctioned operations that used and squandered their father’s resources to fund. The only thing that prevents Jr from sending a bullet Lupita’s way is their blood relation. In the same vein, that relation is the only thing preventing Lupita from doing the same. If anything were to ever happen to her, Carmine would never let Jr get away with it.

Felix spends a reasonable amount of time out of the country, buying and selling high price escorts from all over the world. He’s involved with a secret underground pleasure society that’s rumored to be run by the enigmatic Mr. Joy. Felix makes a lot of money from the women he supplies to this organization. He also runs a legit escort business with ties to Dubai, and he employs illegal call girls locally. Lupita banished Felix from conducting his business operations within the New Crest city limits. She thinks his business his nothing but filthy perversion, and it brings disrespect to the Noriega name. Obviously, Lupita has no issue with women sleeping with men for gain, but only if they get something beneficial out of it, and that’s not necessarily just money. Information is power, leverage over your enemies. Lupita’s Flying Squad of female spies does just that, bed men with the purpose of extracting information. Some of the girls who work for Felix spy for Lupita.

Felix has a bad coke addiction, therefore could never be trusted with working the family business because he was snorting up the product, throwing wild parties and attracting unwanted attention from the wrong people. He’s what is known as a “functioning coke addict.”

Lupita is the oldest daughter. She is second in command to her father and is favored by him over her siblings, including her older more experienced brothers. Since Carmine’s arrest and while he awaits trial, Lupita has been given the task of running The Noriega’s multi-state operations. It’s a demanding task for anyone, but Carmine has full confidence in his daughter’s abilities. Lupita is highly intelligent, speaks multiple languages, and very business savvy.

Born in Miami; she was educated at some of the best European boarding schools. Once she graduated early, she returned to the US and received a bachelor’s in Political Science from Yale University at 20 years old. Lupita is extremely beautiful, charming and witty, but don’t let outward appearances fool you. She is as cutthroat and ruthless as her father and won’t hesitate to cut down anyone who presents as an enemy to the Noriegas. Lupita is known as Bonita Perra, and even men older than her are terrified of what she would do if they were to cross her. She’s fiercely protective of her family, and after witnessing her mother’s execution, it hardened her.

The underworld has been in chaos for some time, ever since the events leading to the execution of San Myshuno boss, D.M. Sanders. Everyone has been eager to take over the city and destroy the newly formed McQueen cartel that has claimed the four boroughs (Uptown, The Spice District, Fashion Row, and Art of the City) of San Myshuno. While the other bosses of Willow Creek, Windenburg, and Oasis Springs are making moves to take out McQueen’s hold on San Myshuno, Lupita knows it’s a delicate time for her father’s operations. He is being charged with multiple federal and state crimes, and he’s wanted in several countries. The other bosses know she’s vulnerable right now.

Lupita walks a fine line between upsetting other outfit leaders and keeping the Noriegas in control of New Crest. Don’t be mistaken, Lupita may not be jumping on the bandwagon to join the ensuing cartel wars yet, but she won’t hesitate to spill blood if her enemies get too close to home. She is waiting for just the right time to make her move on McQueen and his underbosses. She intends to play nice for now, for they won’t see her coming. The stakes are ever high, but Lupita is waiting on the sidelines until it’s time for her take her full position in the arena. All those in the underworld better get prepared because Lupita is a master at playing the game of power and she doesn’t like to lose.

Santiago (Lil’ Sonny) is the youngest son of Carmine and Griselda. He’s an attorney and only works for his father’s business. They have other lawyers, but Sonny mainly handles the legal side of the Noriega Empire. He also handles the moving and transporting of family funds through shell companies and offshore accounts. Lil Sonny considers himself neutral in the feud between Jr and Lupita, but he tended to lean toward his older brothers and sided with Jr once Carmine named Lupita the successor during his incarceration. While Sonny has always handled much of his father’s legal business matters, Lupita shut him out and took away most of his responsibilities, limiting his access because she knows Jr had Lil Sonny spying for him. Lupita prefers to deal with her more trustworthy cousin, Diego whose also a more competent attorney.

Lucrezia (Luc) the youngest of the Noriega children, has no part in her family’s business. She currently attends university in Paris under her mother’s maiden name. She spent much of her life in boarding schools overseas for her protection. Lucrezia loves her family deeply, but she wants nothing to do with the lifestyle. She’s a generous and beautiful soul. Lupita loves her little sister dearly and considers her innocent and good. The last thing she would ever want is for Lucrezia to become apart of the life she leads. Lupita takes good care of Lucrezia and provides her with everything she needs including protection.

It hurts Lucrezia that she’s not able to visit home as often as she’d liked and she was heartbroken when Carmine forbade her to visit him in jail. She knows he did it for her protection, but she loves her father and misses him more than anyone. There’s so much of their mother Lupita sees in her sister, who was just a baby when Griselda was gunned down. Lucrezia has always looked up to Lupita and leaned on her for emotional support in her mother’s absence. Lupita believes that if someone so closely related to her is pure and good like Lucrezia, maybe the Noriegas aren’t doomed for all eternity.

Hector is one of Carmine’s younger brothers. He first came to Miami shortly after his brother executed Don Mateo, the leading drug lord in their old neighborhood. After Carmine relocated his family and fled the country, Hector stayed behind to secure them and eventually get them out of Colombia.

Initially, the Noriega brothers were small-time hustlers on the Miami scene, but Carmine was determined to be king of Miami and assure his family never fell into poverty again. He and Hector quickly made alliances with smaller sellers from the Caribbean who the more prominent lords didn’t deal with, usually, because those sellers were black or non-Colombians.

After a while, more neighborhoods came under Carmine and Hector’s control. Carmine’s reputation grew as someone easy to deal with, paid good money for product and he was loyal to his customers. Eventually, the main importers from Colombia began making exclusive deals with the Noriegas. This left many of the established cartels angry, and the family found themselves in their crosshairs.

Hector has always respected his older brother, even when he’s disagreed with him. But one thing the Noriegas never do is show their discontent with each other to the outside world.

When Carmine moved his young family to New Crest to set up a new operation, he left Hector and their younger brothers in charge of Miami. By this time, the Noriegas had essentially owned most of Miami. Hector is hot-headed and short-tempered, but he’s not stupid. Due to his anger problems and trigger-happy instincts, Carmine has had to get him out of potentially deadly situations on more than one occasion. Hector believed it was a mistake for Carmine to name Lupita acting boss after he was arrested. Hector should be careful, for Lupita has quietly, but efficiently taken note of everyone who spoke out against her appointment as boss. Blood relation or not, Lupita will not be silenced by anyone.

You can check out Lupita’s first POV in chapter 9.1 Sugar & Blood

My Family, Mi Familia

Det Bella Vega’s POV:
(Some sensitive subject matter, graphic language, sexual situations, no nudity)

“Moynihan, did you get anything back from forensics?” Erik and I had been reviewing the evidence seized from Meech’s apartment over the last couple of days. Most of what was recovered by the team had been useless. “Uh, yeah. There was nothing on those phones we recovered. I didn’t suspect there would be.” He whizzed around in his chair; slamming down a stack of folders. “It’s bullshit, Bella. If we had gotten the warrant earlier, maybe we would’ve found something to tie McQueen to the Caribbean importers or Hector Noriega and by extension his brother and Lupita.”

It was getting late in the afternoon, and I was gearing up for another twelve-hour workday. The tension was rising within our department because we were feeling the heat. Ever since cartel boss DM Sanders was killed, there’s been uprisings from smaller factions and the other major heads trying to take over. San Myshuno was wide open, whether or not McQueen called himself the boss.

My gut told me there was a more significant connection between the execution of Sanders, McQueen, The Noriegas and the importers from the Caribbean. We’d seen a lot more narcotics and illegal prescription drugs coming into the region. Most of the coke was coming out of Colombia, which is Noriega’s home country and where his main supply came from. When Sanders was alive, most of his product came from the US Virgin Islands, and we suspected the Selvadorada Canal. But the increased presence of the US military fighting for control over the canal has led to a decline in illegal drug trafficking via that route the last couple of years.

 

“Vega, Moynihan, let’s go,” called Loomis.

The rest of the task force assembled by our tactical maps and operations logistics board. Loomis stood in front of the board and looked at each one of us on his team. We were all tired after working sun up to sun down since the search. Nobody wanted to be here.

“The search of Flex’s apartment didn’t turn up much -” Loomis began to say. “That’s the understatement of the year,” interrupted Tom Kaworski. I rolled my eyes. He was always the first one to offer up his useless opinion on the obvious.

“Can I finish?” glared Loomis. Tom shrugged, folding his arms. “Like I was saying, we didn’t get much, at least nothing that could connect McQueen to the Caribbean runners. As we know, he’s not moving as much product these days. There’s a number of reasons for that. Supply routes coming through the Selvadorada Canal have been jeopardized caused by fighting in the region. Getting into Brindleton Bay hasn’t been easy for anyone drug importers and legit businesses alike.”

“Lamar also doesn’t have the same support nor suppliers Sanders had. He wasn’t giving them a fair deal, they’re going elsewhere,” I spoke up. “He’s hanging by the thinnest of threads,” said Erik, nodding in agreement.

“Lamar’s nervous because he’s losing hold on the old territory owned by DM. Violent crimes and homicide are up, here and in the 38th. Louie Vega told me the dealers and buyers have been stealing from each other leading to retaliatory attacks and murders,” added Hartley. Ever since he slipped up and spent the night the other day, our conversations have been scarce. By scarce, I meant when he asked me a question about work; I gave him one or two-word answers. Being on my shitlist wasn’t a good place to be. The fact Hartley’s bringing up my brother, Louie was some coded message to me.

Louie was a lieutenant and a commanding officer in the Robbery-Homicide division of the 38th precinct, one of the largest in the SMPD, not quite as big as mine, the 29th. I expected to see him at our parent’s house on Sunday. He and Hartley were causal police friends and part of a group of detectives that would get drinks together at a cop bar not too far from here. Louie was never as forthcoming with information with me as he was with Hartley. He would claim that if he had a tip, he’s obligated to share with Hartley before me because he was my supervisor. It was a crock of shit of course and just my brother’s way of telling me I wasn’t welcomed in their little boy’s club. I didn’t need or want in their club; I just wanted any and all information that would help with my investigations.

“DM’s absence left his cartel without real effectual leadership and opened up his territory. The power vacuum is immense. We knew this would happen. Some of the Sanders members had pegged Noriega as the one who called for his execution, but he remains untouched,” I said. It should’ve been very telling that no one has taken Carmine out considering he would have much to gain from getting rid of DM. When Miguel was killed, he was investigating the Sanders cartel. DM may not have been the one to pull the trigger, but he was the head, don’t expect me to cry for him. When I heard of his death, I didn’t feel one inch of sympathy for that bitch. It was the opposite of what I wanted. If DM were alive, I could tie him to all those responsible for Miguel’s death and find out who tipped them off that he and Burl Griggs were undercover.

“McQueen can’t rely on the little amount of product he has access to, which tells us that he’ll go after Noriega. Now that Carmine is in jail, we can expect him to try a move on Lupita,” said Detective Greg Metting, the task force lead.

“Great not only will the 29th see more homicides, but we’ll get a full-scale war with the Noriegas. The perp I brought in for questioning this morning, I’m not getting anything out of him,” said Milli Porcelli.

“You brought in one of McQueen’s homeboys? Well, maybe you can’t speak their homey language. We should have Vega interview him. These are some of your peeps, right homegirl?” laughed Tom, faking a Black American vernacular. I hate people who laugh at their own jokes. Alway the loudest and the most wrong in the unit.

“Fuck you Kaworski. Maybe if your fat repugnant ass didn’t come to work smelling like shit every day, perps would be more inclined to throw you a bone,” I shot back.

“Alright, knock it off! Porcelli and Hartley will talk to him. He’s in interrogation A. Okay do what you got to do. Get me your reports by the end of the day. Talk to your contacts out on the street, shake a tree, throw some money at them, I don’t care,” said Loomis.

After our meeting broke up, I followed Loomis into his office. I had wanted the chance to get to talk to the suspect we had in custody. I didn’t trust that Milli would know what questions to ask. “Lieu, who do we have?”

He rubbed his tired eyes and looked as if he had aged ten years just in the last two days. His head was now entirely grey, an occupational hazard. “Uh, Cassius Haynes; known on the street as C-Daddy.”

“Crip-Daddy? He reps the 500 set in Oasis Springs, what’s he doing here? Oasis is Bobby Wilds’ operation. The 500s don’t usually come out this way.” I had my suspicions why a known Crip leader would be in Spice Lane, but I would need to confer with my contact. San Myshuno hasn’t had a major gang war between sets in years. There was a point when bloodshed got so bad the 29th had to recruit other officers to our Gang Unit. If anything we see more skirmishes out in Oasis where the gangs are regaining prominence.

“C-Daddy has ties to Meech and by extension Lamar. We’re keeping an eye on his crew. McQueen wants to root out the gangs under Noriega. I don’t think Bobby Wilds has anything to do with this regardless where C is from; he’s not connected to the outfit. All we have are breadcrumbs right now,” replied Loomis.

Choosing my next words carefully, I didn’t want to let on to Lieu that I had contacts that aided me in my investigation into Miguel’s murder, but the task force war on the McQueen cartel was very much connected. I had to handle this right.

“I wanted to talk to him. Porcelli won’t get much from him; I can tell you that right now,” I said. If I told Lieu about any information, I was privy to over Hartley or Milli he’d demand to know what it is and I’m not prepared to give up anything just yet, mainly because I didn’t have all my bases covered.

“Vega, they’ll handle it. I need you out there talking to your guys on the streets. C-Daddy is low on the totem pole; Hartley can handle this interrogation.” I started to protest, but Loomis gave me a look signifying this conversation was over. It wasn’t worth wasting my time. There was more than one way to skin a cat.

I exited his office and headed back to my desk. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that Hartley had been watching me the entire time.

I sat down, keeping my eyes on him as he made his way over to Porcelli and began conversing with him in a low tone.

I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but Porcelli’s face was tied up in knots. If Hartley’s next move was to interrogate Crip-Daddy, I could guess what he’d said to Milli. As he was one of the supervisors, he could make that call.

“Bella, you know what’s curious though about that bust. Hialeah is mostly Cuban,” observed Erik, looking up from his computer and over the low partition that separated our desks.

“Yeah, so?” I shrugged. “Well, my mother’s family is from there, and they’re Cuban. More Colombians have been moving into the area. ‘Not saying all of them are drug dealers, but the ones moving into the city and setting up shop isn’t your everyday families. The people in my mom’s neighborhood notice that kind of thing. The Noriegas are from Colombia,” replied Erik.

“Carmine and his siblings have been in South Florida for years, particularly Miami, where Lupita was born. They control a large portion of import distribution down there. It’s fast becoming the coke capital of the US once again. Don’t you remember the eighties?” I asked, wryly.

“Hardly, being that I was born in the late eighties. You can’t remember that much either; we’re only a couple of years apart. Anyway, the Noriegas are looking to expand, not just in Florida by moving into new cities. That’s a lot of weight for the amount of territory they own down there. Carmine, Hector, Lupita, they all know McQueen is weak. They want to move more of their product here to San Myshuno.”

What Erik said did make a lot of sense. Even if Lupita was trying to lay low now because she didn’t want heat while her father awaited trial, I could see how she could be laying the groundwork for a bigger operation. The guys under McQueen as well as his dissenters were going to try everything they could to stop that from happening. Sanders loyalists may have broken off from McQueen, but the last thing they would want is Noriega taking over their territories.

I was interested in seeing what C-Daddy would have to say about his activity in Spice Lane. He wouldn’t say much, but if he acknowledged any movement at all, it would provide me with context I could follow up with on with my contact later. They weren’t the type to readily give me information. A lot of what I worked off these days were hunches and very little concrete evidence.

I had a “box” that said 1000 piece puzzle, and it was like I only had 241 pieces so far, the rest either were lost or I didn’t know where they all fit in just yet.

******************************

I headed over to observe Hartley’s interrogation. When I entered the room, Porcelli was already waiting. I didn’t acknowledge him. He and Tom were two peas in the same smug asshole pod. I stood on the other side of the two-way mirror. From watching his body language and hearing his evasive answers, I could see Crip-Daddy was blowing nothing but hot air. Hartley would need to trip him up and get him to admit it wasn’t by Bobby Wilds’ order that he was in Spice Lane.

“Why were you hanging out near 45th today? That’s not where you usually hang out is it?” asked Hartley.

“Nigga, I told that white cop that picked me up. I was mindin’ my muthafuckin’ bid’ness,” replied C-Daddy; crossing his arms, he turned his head and spat on the floor.

Hartley tapped his hands on the stained table that had seen better days. Now it was covered in coffee stains, scratches, and dust. Chuckling, he shook his head in mock disbelief.

“Your ‘bid’ness–” said Hartley using air quotes “…is, unfortunately, interfering with Lupita’s business. Bobby got you out here making some pretty dumb ass moves.”

“I don’t fuck with Bobby.”

“If you tell me his plan now, I’ll help you out.” It was an act on Hartley’s part; he knew Wilds wasn’t in Noriega territory. We were going to be here all day if we didn’t get this sewed up soon and got C to reference anything remotely about McQueen.

“I don’t need no help, I’m good, G.” This whole line of questioning was going nowhere fast. “You’re a 500 from OS. Bobby runs your city, and you pretend to be in Spice Lane for what reason—sightseeing?” asked Hartley.

“I was visiting my baby mama,” said C-Daddy. I rolled my eyes. I wanted to tell Hartley to stop wasting his time. “Oh? Last I checked, as of this morning we confirmed your baby’s mother lives with you,” said Hartley.

“Yeah, one does, but I got more than one baby mama.” I could see that C-Daddy was amused by this back and forth. We all knew he was lying; not about having more than one baby mama, but saying she lived in Spice Lane.

“And yet that one doesn’t live in San Myshuno at all. You got anything else?” Hartley cocked his head to the side, waiting for whatever else type of lie C would make up.

Crip-Daddy scratched at his long bushy beard. He looked over at the two-way mirror and flipped the bird. “How much these white popo payin’ yo’ black ass to tap dance for them, huh Nigga? You probably the blackest nigga in the department too. I get it, it good for optics and shit. We both know if you wasn’t wearing that badge, you’d be sitting where I was unless they didn’t shoot ‘cho ass first. All black men is liabilities out here. You ain’t no different than me, G.”

Hartley got up and slammed his chair under the table. “Let’s get one thing, straight nigga. We aren’t the same, but we do have some things in common. We’re both black, we both have guns, although mine are legal, and society fears us. But do you know what they fear more than some two-bit ass hood nucca running around waving colors? They fear me, an educated black man with power. And as far as I’m concerned, you need to be scared too because the real black people who give a damn about their neighborhoods ain’t gonna be run out by Y’all. You fixed your lips to call me a tap dancer, am I correct?”

“Yeah, Nigga, you dancin’ for the white man, killing other black men out ‘che. You doin’ yo’ slavemasters work for them.” C’s words were laced with venom; he was trying to elicit a response from Hartley.

Glancing at the two-way mirror, Hartley steadied his gaze before turning to C-Daddy again. Leaning over on the table, he got right in his face.

“Hear this because I’m only going to say it once. You and the rest of the piece of shit bangers are out here killing men who look just like you. I’m the police; I follow the law of the land. I arrest and jail those who break the laws, no matter what color they are. You’re trying to say I’m an agent of white supremacy as an officer of the law. The bad racial relations between my community and the police is not lost on me. But don’t you ever try to justify your criminal activity because you feel ‘oppressed’. You oppress other black people in your hood every single day. So fuck your faux racial politics. You care no more for the next black man than the  architects of a society built on institutionalized racism.”

Both rooms got very quiet. I could see the tense expression on Porcelli’s face in the window’s reflection. He didn’t say anything and why would he? Hartley’s message was as much for him as it was for C-Daddy.

*****************************

My family usually met for dinner at my parent’s house every other Sunday. My mom would like it if we met every week, but it just wasn’t possible with our busy careers. The Vegas is a well-known law enforcement family. I have relatives at just about every level. From local cops, state cops, federal agents, prosecutors, and judges were either in my immediate or extended family. My father served on the force for nearly thirty years and retired as a high ranking and decorated commander in the SMPD. Other than Miguel, my older brothers Louie and Daniel were on the force.

I became a cop against my father’s wishes. He doesn’t believe the force is any place for a woman. His sexism is nothing new to me and something I’ve been aware of all my life. I don’t try to pretend that being a woman head detective is something special, although people say it’s an accomplishment. I don’t want preferential treatment because of my sex. I do expect the backlash and resentment I receive from male coworkers. I don’t go home and cry about it because it doesn’t faze me one way or another. I’m not a pioneer nor a feminist fighting for the rights of other women. The only person whose rights I look out for is me. If I didn’t, people would try to get over on me; that’s something I’ve never allowed from anyone nor ever will.

I arrived at my parent’s home in Willow Creek late in the afternoon; entering through the dining room back door and headed into the kitchen where I found my mother, Camila chopping onions. “Hey, baby. I didn’t hear you. Why’d you come through the back?” she asked, looking up. “Mami I always come through the back.”

“Since you’re here, you want to help me with dinner?”

I hesitated for a moment looking at the array of vegetables, spices and half rolled dough on the counter. My mother knew the only appliances I used on a regular basis was my coffeemaker and microwave. “Renata’s not here?” I asked. My older sister was much more capable of handling domestic duties than I was.

“Yeah, Renata’s in the living room. Your sister is helping too. I think she’s getting the kids settled with a movie before dinner starts.”


Mom went back to chopping her onions. Her demeanor had changed like she wanted to say something to me. I wondered what I had done this time. Either it would be another plea for me to take a desk job, leave the force or some other complaint to do with my career.

“I heard about that raid you went on, at that drug dealer’s apartment,” said Mom. She turned to look at me again. Briefly, I could see the worry lines forming on her face. “It wasn’t a raid; it was a search. There were no battering ram, no SWAT; not that big of a deal.”

This time Mom completely stopped chopping. She drew a breath before speaking again. “You are dealing with more than just some local dealer. This is a cartel, Isa. Not just any cartel either, but the same one responsible for…” she stifled a cry before trailing off. I knew what she was going to say ‘the same cartel responsible for killing Miguel. I tried to mask the frustration in my voice. My brother’s death still felt very raw to all of us at times, especially my mother. “It’s part of the job, Mami. It’s what I do.”

“There’s all kinds of things you can do and stay on the force. You don’t have to be out there putting yourself on the line.” Mom waved her hands in frustration. We seemed to have this same argument at least once a month, especially now that the team was deep into investigating McQueen and the rise in activity all over the city.

“Do you ever ask Louie or Daniel to leave the force, Mom? No, you don’t. I can’t speak for everyone in my unit, but Lieu, Hartley, Erik, and I aren’t out here to play games, and neither are the Caribbean cartels and Noriegas of the world who are killing people over the product on these streets.”

I understood why my mother was upset, but she had no right to demand things of me that she never did her sons. I started to make my way out of the kitchen when my father walked in. I was used to his disapproving looks by now. I preferred to stay out of his way when I came home. As much as I hated arguing with my mother, I could brush off her main concerns to being an overly protective parent. My father’s disdain for me was based purely on my being a female cop, something he’s always been dead set against and has earned me his ire ever since I entered the academy.

“Sanders was Loomis’ guy, yet his murder is still unsolved. He’s good, but he doesn’t see how ineffectual his task force is. I know many others within Narcotics who should’ve been promoted,” said Dad, pointedly. The latter I could somewhat agree with; that not everyone on the task force was as effectual as others, but the former was a load of shit and my father knew it.

“Being that when Sanders was killed, it was in the 38th’s jurisdiction and your son is a supervisor in Robbery-Homicide, and the case is in his department, I would take that up with Louie,” I replied. Dad gave me a stern look that meant not to try him. But honestly, I didn’t give a shit if he was mad. He was taking a shot at my department and in essence me by blaming us for DM Sanders’ unsolved execution.

I didn’t want to let on how much his words stung me. In secret, finding out who killed DM was essential to my investigation into who murdered Miguel because I felt like everything was connected. Officially, I’m not a homicide detective, not in my brother’s precinct, nor is it ethical for me to look into a family member’s murder. I’ve never been one to play by the rules. And I’ll continue looking at the case until I exact justice on Miguel’s killers.

*******************************

I started to walk toward the living room when I heard my father’s steps behind me. I thought he would say something further about my job, but he made a left into his study and firmly closed the door behind him.

My nephews and nieces were running in and out the house. “C’mon Y’all. It’s getting chilly, watch a movie until dinner’s ready!” called Renata, trying to wrangle in her kids as well as my brother Daniel’s children.

I pulled out my secondary burner phone to see if I’d received any messages from my contact for our meeting later tonight. My nerves were on edge, I wanted to go out for a smoke, but my mother forbade me from smoking and reentering the house. My connect told me they would text me with the details, but I should’ve heard from them by now.

“This is the new bracelet Montrell got me. He said it’s a pre-wedding gift.” I heard my younger sister, Natalia’s voice raise. She was sitting in living room talking to my sister-in-law Tiffany. She glanced up in my direction, pretending to straighten her hair so I could see the diamond her fiance gave her. The same rock Natalia’s been wearing for nearly two years. She’s been “engaged” to the same ain’t shit Panthers cornerback for just as long.

The last thing Natalia actually believes is that I give one shit about her and her man, which is everyone’s man if you wanted to know the truth. Community penis works like that. I know many a-hoes Montrell keeps in high heels.

For the next half an hour, I sat in the foyer, repeatedly looking at my phone. I needed a cigarette badly. My contact doesn’t have my primary cell number. I wanted to call or text them first, but I couldn’t appear overeager. I had to play this right. They were under the impression that meeting me was more crucial for them.

I hated waiting for information. I suddenly remembered the time we were all waiting for the news after we learned Miguel had been attacked. We didn’t immediately know if he was dead or alive. It seemed like days. Loomis was head of detectives at the time. When we saw him pull up to the curb, we knew Miguel was gone, and some part of me died that day. The life left my mother’s eyes. Whatever warmth my father maintained after becoming jaded after years of service on the force was gone. I hardened myself even more than what was natural for me. Whatever reservations I had about entering the academy against my father’s wishes ceased to exist. I had no choice; I had to avenge Miguel.

I was lost in my memories; I didn’t hear my brother, Daniel trying to get my attention. “Isa, did you hear me?” I looked up. “What?”
“Dinner’s almost ready. What’s wrong with you? Why do you keep looking at your phone?” he asked.

I shook my head. “Just waiting to hear back from Moynihan on our case.” Daniel nodded and started to turn toward the dining room. I reached out; grabbing his arm. “Wait a sec. Have you or any of your units picked up any of C-Daddy’s crew in Spice Lane in recent weeks?”

Daniel searched my face for a moment. “No, not recently. But a couple of my guys have seen Remy Wallace lurking in the area.” I did a double take. Remy was Meech’s cousin and apart of his Theta crew. This only confirmed my suspicions from the other day that McQueen meant to move on Noriega. The Thetas weren’t an itty bitty shit street gang like the 500s that C repped. They were Meech’s crew and reported to him directly. He’s Lamar’s second in command. If Remy was down in Spice Lane, it was because Flex told him to go there.

I wasn’t done talking with Daniel when Tiffany interrupted us. “C’mon now, it’s Sunday. You can talk down at the station.”

I sucked my teeth. “You must be new to this family because no one shuts up about the job just because it’s Sunday.” Tiffany didn’t say anything but motioned for Daniel to come with her. “Just a minute, babe,” he said.

“Bella, we’ll talk tomorrow. If I have time, I’ll head to Narcotics before I go out.” It wasn’t a good idea if I appeared to be carrying on an investigation on my own through my older brother. Sure, I ran into him and our cases overlapped, but I was in a precarious situation and needed to appear to do everything by the book. “No. I’ll find you. Don’t mention this to anyone, especially Hartley or Louie.”

******************************

“Are the kids settled?” Mom asked Renata as she came into the dining room. When there was too many of us for dinner, the kids sat at their own table. Renata nodded her head and informed Mom that she could not stay that late, especially with her husband away at an FBI conference. I would have to make up some excuse to get out of here early as well.

As an FBI agent, Stephan worked out of the New Crest field office and had investigated portions of the Noriega operations over the years. Being that Renata is a state attorney, she’s had to recuse herself from the cases her husband was directly involved in. I didn’t run into my sister as much anymore since she left the D.A.’s office. There was a degree of distance between all of us in our respective careers; it’s what I preferred.

I sat at the dinner table trying to will the speed of time. I was trying not to be so obvious when I checked my phone for any new messages. My father caught me once before and shot me a disapproving look.

After nearly an hour my phone buzzed inside my jacket. I tried to play off like I dropped something on the floor and looked at my text:

Blue Moon 10

That was the end of the message. Good, now I could start putting my play in motion.

**********************************

After dinner, I told my mom I didn’t have time to stay for dessert and needed to get home to work on a case. I cut her off before she could put up a protest and attempt to guilt trip me.

I headed out the front door and lit a cigarette. I took a long drag before letting out my breath. Flicking it, I watched as the ashes disappeared before hitting the ground. In the distance, I heard the deep bass of a car sound system approaching.

The car pulled into the driveway and my little brother, Manuel hopped out and slammed the door shut.

“Wassup, Isa?” called Manuel, lifting his chin. I took another drag of my cigarette, not answering in return.

Once again, my little brother had arrived late for dinner. When I couldn’t make it or came late, it was because I was busy working. Manuel, on the other hand, is irresponsible, does poorly in school and he’s spoiled as fuck by our mother.

“Is Mom mad?”

“Go in there and find out, shit.” I didn’t attempt to hide the disdain in my voice. That wasn’t clue enough for Manuel to tell him I wasn’t in the mood to be bothered. “Why you out here anyway? You out?” he asked.

I scoffed. “Get inside boy, don’t worry about what I’m doing.” I then turned directly toward Manuel and blew a large cloud of smoke in his face. He shook his head, smirking. “I got a blunt if you want. That cigarette ain’t gon’ do shit!”

I turned my lip up. “Do you want me to bust you?”

“Weed ain’t illegal no more, sis!” Manuel continued to laugh. I looked him up and down and wondered how we could sometimes be related. “In some areas of San Myshuno, no. Willow Creek yes it is.”

I studied Manuel for a moment longer. He thought this immature, reckless party-boy behavior was cute.

The front door opened. “Manny, you better get inside; Papi’s gonna break his foot in your ass,” said Louis coming down the steps.

Manuel sighed; hustling past us and into the house.

Louie stood beside me, silent. The only audible sounds were the crickets and wind chimes. I could feel him looking at me. Finally, he spoke. “You off to meet Hartley?”

I didn’t answer and continued to stare across the street. “Look, Bella, you need to watch your step,” he warned.

I tossed my cigarette to the ground; stomping out the butt and looked up at my brother. “Glass houses, Louie.” I said; leaving him on the sidewalk.

Once I reached my car, I pulled out another cigarette. My night hadn’t even started yet.

*******************************

 

I left Willow Creek driving the thirty miles back into the city to one of San Myshuno’s seedier red light districts. I parked my car in a parking lot near the train tracks about a block and a half away from the Blue Moon motel where I was to meet my contact. I purposely arrived earlier than our agreed upon time to gain a vantage point.

I pulled my Glock out from my glovebox; tucking it under my jacket. I softly closed the car door; pressing it all the way shut with my hip and clicked the alarm.

A lot of prostitution, sex work, and human trafficking occurs in this part of town. The Red Light District is part of the Spice District borough and much of the territory was under my precinct’s jurisdiction.

I quickly strutted up the block to the motel, taking care not to walk too loudly over the cracked pavement. For an area known for prostitution and sex trafficking, it was eerily quiet.

Once I reached the Blue Moon, I ducked behind a corner and looked down the alley to make sure I hadn’t been followed.

Several abandoned buildings shared the same lot as the motel. Many homeless people and squatters lived there, and it was known to be a spot for crackheads to buy their drugs and get high.

I heard a couple of voices in the distance.

I stepped from behind the corner of the building and spotted a hoe taking a john into one of the rooms opposite to where I was standing on the other side of the lot.

I found a vending machine located near the neon signs advertising a strip club that was attached to the motel.  I knew the Blue Moon not to have cameras, but I wasn’t comfortable lurking around in the open.

I walked up the machine and reached my hand around until I felt a door key taped to the back just as my contact said there would be.

I passed the room the hoe and the john went into but didn’t hear any sounds. There were multiple cars in the lot, most likely for the club as several of the rooms were boarded up.

It was common for the strippers to make extra money on the side by turning tricks and taking their customers to the rooms that were available.

I hurried over to the room where I was to meet my contact. I glanced down the walkway again. The room next door was boarded up with old worn out wood. At least no one would be on the other side of the wall.

I pressed my ear against the door, listening for any sounds coming from inside.

I slipped the key into the lock, slowly pushing the door open. It creaked loudly, and I was met with a heavy musky smell like when you’re in a thrift store or an old person’s home whose family had long since abandoned them and no one came to clean up for their relative or even check if they had died.

I found a lamp and flipped the switch. The room looked like it was stuck in a different era. The paint on the walls and ceiling were peeling, and there was a sign that said ‘VHS Rental XXX $4.25. But there was no VCR or even a DVD player in sight. Most establishments that rent rooms by the hour weren’t concerned with amenities nor pleasing their guests.

It was almost too quiet, especially for a motel with thin walls. All of a sudden, an arm reached around my waist; a hand covered my mouth.

“You and the rest of the boys in blue thought you were gonna sow my shit up, didn’t you, Bitch?” a male whispered in my ear. His Zenga cologne was easily recognizable. He tightened his grip on my mouth. I gave him a quick elbow thrust, just strong enough for me to escape his grasp.

I turned around to face my visitor. “You knew it was only a matter of time. Don’t attempt to get mad. I warned you.”

Marquez “Meech” Flex stood there. He grabbed me again, this time pulling my waist until our bodies were pressed against each other. “You and the rest of those muthafuckas could’ve cost me a lot. Y’all put me through a lot of shit.” He had a countenance that scared off most, but I wasn’t like other people.

“Isn’t it lucky for you that I tipped you off then?”

“No. It’s lucky for Y’all. But I ask myself why I keep you around when you don’t do shit! You let those bitches in my house when there was a lot you could’ve done to prevent it! How inept can you fuckin’ be?”

I slapped him hard across the face. The fact that he dared to accuse me of not doing anything for him when I’ve sacrificed so much to protect him, pissed me off.

“Are you out of your damn mind? I’m the reason your ass isn’t sitting in a jail cell right now! You need me, not the other way around!” I yelled.

“You lucky you a fuckin’ female,” said Marquez. This time, he yanked my wrist; aggressively turning me around and slammed me into the wall. “You want it, girl?”

My nipples hardened, and the juices were flowing. I was caught in a maze of emotions; from anger and hostility to passion and my insatiable desire for sex with this man.

I feverishly unbuttoned my pants and heard the sound of Marquez unbuckling his jeans. He slowly gyrated his penis against my ass, lightly at first, then picked up speed and added force. For what seemed like an eternity, he finally entered my walls with such ferocity, I cried out in immeasurable pleasure.

He was beating the shit out of it; I’d started to come after only a couple of minutes.

Marquez picked me and headed to the bed. I sat on the edge with my legs gapped open. “Come here,” I whispered.

As Marquez began climbing on me, I told him to wait while I removed my blazer, only keeping my tank top and heels on.

He positioned himself from behind. The strength and voracity I felt from his body banging into mine left me in a state of pure carnal ecstasy. I could not get enough, it was like I was addicted to him.

“Oh! Yeah, right there,” I said between breaths; my head was bobbing and weaving like I was having convulsions.

“You nasty hoe, you like that?”

“Yes!” I screamed. Marquez grabbed my hair and wrapped his hand around my throat as he continued to plow away. “Fuck the police. It’s good fuckin’ the police,” he grumbled.

‘And I know she the law, and she know I’m the boy
And she know I get high a-bove the law
And she know I’m raw, she know it from the street
And all she want me to do is fuck the police…’

Marquez pumped one last hard time, and we shuddered through one last simultaneous orgasm. My heart was beating fast and loud in my ears. My chest heaved in and out as I tried to steady my breathing.

I had to refocus; it wasn’t an easy thing to do. Marquez made me do things I otherwise wouldn’t. I was completely aware of the risk I was taking sleeping with a notorious cartel member. I didn’t seek out this type of relationship with him, but it evolved, and he was an asset to my investigations pertaining to Miguel and the task force. I had to play him just right.

“Are we done? Can we talk now?” I asked, rising from the bed to find my clothes. “Don’t act like you all about honoring that badge all of a sudden. We could’ve “talked” anywhere. ‘To serve and protect’…you was serving that ass for real. You came here; I gave you what you wanted. You got fucked, Detective, like any other time,” he snickered.

His nonchalant swagger and attitude turned me on easily enough, but it could also just as easily make me want to pull out my Glock for some target practice. He busted a few tonight and now wanted to act like he did something particularly special. When will these stupid ass men ever learn?

“I don’t need to come to you. I can get peen anywhere. It’s a free and open market, and I’m a self-proclaimed capitalist; my portfolio is very diversified and fulfilling. Trust me when I say, I don’t get fucked by anybody. You’d do well to remember that.”

“Whatever you say, Detective.”

“We picked up one of your men the other day. Your presence in Spice Lane could only mean you’re planning on moving on Lupita. I don’t have to tell you how completely fucked you’ll be if you proceed.” I purposely didn’t mention to him that it was Crip-Daddy that was picked up. I wanted to see if he would voluntarily confirm Remy was there.

Marquez smirked but didn’t fall for my bait. “Oh yeah, C told me you’d picked him up, but you know I was aware of that,” he said, getting up and throwing on his boxers and jeans. Again, I attempted to redirect him into confirming why his cousin was Spice Lane. “You claim you know already. Why are the 500s down there anyway? Why would someone from Bobby Wilds’ city be in San Myshuno?”

“Why don’t you say what you mean and what you want to find out. You know damn well the 500 ain’t got shit to do with Bobby. They’re all over and not exclusive to Oasis,” replied Marquez.

“And yet C was picked up in territory that’s been exclusive to Noriega’s street affiliates for years.” I was trying to goad him out our back and forth racketball session where I serve the ball his way, he swerves and back, yet the game is never-ending.

“It was only through some consensus years ago that DM allowed Carmine’s peeps to stay in Spice Lane. The homies don’t care about the 500s.” He was trying to put me off as to the real reason C-Daddy and his goons have been setting up shop over there, but it wasn’t going to work.

I laughed. “You’re attempting to feed me a spoonful of this shit that because the Latin gangs aren’t Bloods, it’s of no consequence for Crips to come into their territory. ‘The fuck I look like to you? This ain’t OS. It ain’t about colors or sets primarily. It’s ethnicity first, set second, colors last in San Myshuno. Those groups ain’t never been cool with each other and they ain’t about to start.”

“Is that what y’all irrelevant ass defunct nineties gang unit told you?”

“I don’t need anyone to tell me shit about the 5s or the Spice Lane sets. Lamar has you setting yourself up for a shitstorm you’re not prepared to fight. And he fucking knows that. ‘You wanna go down for him? Give me something on McQueen! I’ve known for weeks now there’s some connection between him, the Spice Lane set up, and the shit out there in Miami with Hector Noriega. Carmine’s brother runs Miami. That bust in Hialeah is rumored to be one of his drop houses. Lamar’s using you to go after Lupita while her father awaits trial. He has some type of association with whoever rolled over on Hector. Do not play me!” I yelled.

I had had just about enough of Marquez and his games. My patience was wearing thin. I didn’t believe for a second that Lamar had the organization to go after Hector nor the ability to steal any product not seized by the feds. The task force wasn’t even sure Lamar played any part in the bust. My instincts told me the smaller play for Spice Lane was a set up for an eventual attack on Hector and Lupita.

“You are fuckin’ yellin’ about Spice Lane, now we talking about Hialeah? Bitch, make up your mind about what conversation you want to have.” I slammed my fist into my palm. “They’re all connected!” My patience with Marquez was done.

With a menacing look on his face, Marquez stepped closer. His mood had quickly darkened. “Look, I told you before I don’t know what connections Lamar may or may not have to Miami. He’s never had a direct line to Carmine, Hector, or Lupita. When DM dealt with the Noriegas, he negotiated with Carmine. When he was killed, none of those relationships passed down to Lamar because they don’t fuck with him like that. You lookin’ for things that don’t exist.”

“You’re full of shit. Either you think I was born yesterday or there’s a whole lot about Lamar you don’t know. If there’s a next time we meet, I expect something. I won’t continue putting myself on the line to protect you. Give me meat, not scraps.” I couldn’t go on with this go-round; my time had been wasted.

Marquez leaned forward. “You don’t call the shots. You ain’t running shit. I may know things, but it doesn’t mean I’ll tell 5-O. When your thirsty ass learns how to ask the right questions, come see me. But for now, you can get the fuck up out my face,” he replied, cryptically.

One of the most critical lessons civilians need to learn is to not mess with the police. There are multiple levels of unchecked power, means, and accessibility cops have, and I have no reservations about taking advantage of them all. “If you don’t want to start measuring your life in ten to fifteen-year intervals, you better get straight with me. We can make your life unbearable. You don’t want that.”

Marquez snatched my wrist; yanking me forward. “You like numbers huh? 1501 Delaware, 704 Spice Avenue Apartment 202, 841 Brookhaven Lane. How you like them numbers, Hoe?” he snarled.

Those were the addresses of Loomis, Erik, and Hartley. To threaten my team was a bad move on his part. I felt rage surging through my body, enough of this shit. I dug my nails into Marquez’s hand, forcing myself from his grip. I bent down to pick my blazer off the floor and retrieved my Glock. Springing back up, I unchecked the safety and took aim at Marquez.

All the blood had rushed to my face; my bra started to feel like a strangulation device around my tightened chest. I had crazy eyes. Marquez made the mistake of moving directly into my crosshairs. I could go zero to one hundred, real quick.

“Bitch, is that supposed to scare me?” Marquez expanded his arms lurching forward.

“Two things my father always said: Don’t make an attempt with a thinly veiled threat and don’t let your mouth write a check your ass can’t cash. Watch yourself, Marquez, because others are watching you. Your 500s, Thetas, none of you are safe from me. Just because you had your dick in me doesn’t mean I won’t hesitate to put a bullet in you. If you even try any underhanded shit against my team, I will know. It won’t be the Noriegas you have to watch over your shoulder for because I’ll get to you first—I promise you that.”

 

****Author’s Note: Obviously this is a big turning point in not only Bella’s storyline but Marquez’s as well. I’ve planned for this specific scene for several months now. The last scene does have some sexually graphic language and situations, but the point of it was not merely having sex for the sake of having sex. In Bella’s bio, it’s stated that she suffers from sex addiction and she’s strongly attracted to Marquez against her better wishes. As a cop, she’s crossed the line, even if her initial reasons for making Marquez an asset was to assist in her investigation of her brother’s murder. I’ve said this before, there are no real villains or heroes in this story. This chapter was a bit more challenging to write than my previous chapters of GOP. There are several moving elements involving the narcotics trade, the cartels of the cities in the region, the importers who come through Florida via the Caribbean and the Selvadorada Canal, which I created somewhat based on the Panama Canal, so there’ll be some historical references as it pertains to the canal in future chapters. 

I look forward to developing this storyline and bringing in Lupita Noriega as another main character shortly. 

****Hartley’s interrogation of Crip-Daddy. I got the name from a real person who was in the CRIPS and mutual associates of some of my relatives about thirty years ago. My character is not based on any real person.  I hadn’t planned on the conversation turning to racial politics, police relations with the black community and how some black officers see themselves in an organization that some feel is against Black Americans and other people of color. But it was something that needed to be said as some of the characters will deal with these issues. I’m not painting any one side as all wrong or all right. I’m interested in presenting honest dialogue from all sides even if  I don’t agree and it makes me uncomfortable in doing so. I think one of the most important things a writer must do is be honest. 

****Sidenote, when I wrote Marquez’s line “fuck the police” in a sexual context, I thought about that line from Wayne’s song Mrs. Officer. It seemed to fit the situation so well, and I don’t even consider myself a fan. LOL

****Be sure to check out the biographies of Bella, Marquez, and Lupita in the character bio index. You can also read about the Vega family there too. Bella’s first POV can be read in chapter 2 Sex, Guns, and Cigarettes. Marquez’s first POV occurs in chapter 6 All Harm, All Foul Check us out on Facebook for cc and story updates. Come and join our group. SOCS

The title of this chapter is from a movie of the same name.

Thanks so much for reading and Happy Simming!

-Camille

Kao Sanders and The Art of War: Conceal Your Intentions & Crush All Enemies

  

Kao has the Creativity Aspiration

Kao’s traits are: Ambitious, Self-Assured, and Music Lover

“a prince should have no other object, no any other thought, nor take anything as his art but that of war and its orders and discipline; for that is the only art which is of concern to one who commands.” – The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

Kao Sanders is the son of DM Sanders, the slain cartel leader of San Myshuno who was executed by unnamed assailants two years ago. Kao and his father had a major falling out some years before his father was murdered, though the circumstances aren’t clear. Kao was last seen by his father’s old crew at his funeral, since then his whereabouts have been unknown.

At one point, Kao was being groomed to take over his father’s business. He would’ve been a capable boss due to his intelligence and natural leadership skills. Some suspect that one of the many reasons Kao and DM fell out was because the former wanted to legitimize all the Sanders family businesses in the future. After DM died, his second in command, Lamar McQueen became the successor, many Sanders loyalists didn’t agree with this and left to form their own factions.  Although several members of the former Sanders cartel broke off, the majority would come back and welcome Kao as the new boss and depose Lamar.

If Kao were to return no one can be sure what his move would be or if he’s even about this life any longer. No one fears his potential return more than Lamar, for he knows the day Kao claims what is rightfully his, is the day he would lose his reign as the cartel leader.

Marquez “Meech” Flex was a Sanders loyalist, but he works under McQueen. He has his own designs on taking over from Lamar due to the latter’s ineffectual rule. Marquez was cool with Kao, and they got along but were never close.

When rumors begin to circulate that Kao has intentions of returning, he’ll be in the middle of one of the deadliest cartel wars San Myshuno has seen in decades. He makes a lot of people nervous, and he’ll need to keep a lookout for those who mean to take him out in fear of the support undoubtedly the son of DM Sanders would gain on family recognition alone. Kao could gain control over San Myshuno and the coveted four boroughs of the city: Uptown, Fashion Row, The Spice District, and Art of the City.

McQueen, the Noriegas, the Ukranian Ivanovs cartel over Windenburg, The Costas of Willow Creek, and Bobby Wilds of Oasis Springs are keeping their ear to the ground, and many won’t hesitate to attempt to take out Kao if he were to set foot in San Myshuno again.

Kao has his reasons for a possible move back to San Myshuno, but he prefers to keep a low profile in the meanwhile. There are times when you play a game of power and challenged by an unexpected and most skilled player who comes out of nowhere and moves to checkmate your king. Play the game wisely; always expect the unexpected.

****Author’s Note to get caught up with Marquez and McQueen check out the character biography index and All Harm All Foul 

****The title I made up for Kao’s bio is inspired by Machiavellian philosophy and The Laws of Power, thus my loose interpretation of them in relation to Kao’s background. 

Thank you, 

Camille

Shades of Blue: The Vega Family

 

THE VEGA FAMILY

Commander Juan Vega – received his bachelor’s from San Myshuno State in criminal justice. He had a successful career within the SMPD and retired as a highly decorated officer. He now teaches part-time at the academy and San Myshuno Community College.

Camila Vega – moved from Puerto Rico to the mainland US when she was in high school where she met Juan who was two years older than her. She got pregnant right before she started her senior year and while Juan was in college. They married just a few months later once Camila turned 18. She was able to graduate high school on time even though she had a newborn and went to community college to study baking and business. Camila received her AA and within a year had started selling deserts from their apartment. She opened a successful Puerto Rican bakery twenty years ago.

Det Miguel Vega – The oldest child of Juan and Camila. Miguel was brilliant and incredibly gifted in school. He always had a mind for science but wanted to go into law enforcement like his father, grandfather, and several uncles and cousins. He did a career test in high school, and they told him he would be good at conducting investigations because he had a keen sense of understanding the criminal mind. Miguel graduated high school a year early and was offered multiple scholarships to some of the best schools in the country. He eventually received his bachelor’s in biochemistry. After graduation, he entered the police academy and rose quickly through the ranks upon becoming an officer. It usually takes 5 or more years to become a detective, but Miguel was promoted within three years and was the youngest detective in the entire SMPD, that included all 40 precincts at the time. The department now has 55 precincts.

As an undercover agent, Miguel infiltrated a small but powerful faction of the Sanders cartel. During a sting operation that went wrong, Miguel and his partner, Burl Griggs were discovered and brutally beaten before they were killed. The Narcotics Unit never found out who the assailants were and the suspected mole within their department who gave information to the Sanders’ crew.

Lieutenant Louis Vega – is the commanding officer of the Robbery-Homicide division of the 38th precinct of SMPD. He previously was head of detectives before receiving his promotion. At great expense to his marriage, Louis put his job before his family. It paid off for him career-wise, but he and his wife ultimately divorced. He received his bachelor’s in police science from San Myshuno University.

Sargent Daniel Vega – works as a supervisory officer in the Patrol Divison of the 29th precinct in the SMPD. Unlike his father and two older brothers, Daniel didn’t go to a four-year school but received his Associates of Applied Sciences in criminology from San Myshuno Community College. He’s currently married with children.

Renata Vega-Trujillo – the oldest daughter of Juan and Camila,  works as a state prosecutor. She went to Loyola law and worked in the DA’s office before becoming a state attorney. Renata lives in New Crest with her husband and children.

Det Bella Vega –  the first Black Latina to be named head detective in the San Myshuno Narcotics Unit. She received her bachelor’s in criminology and went to excel at the police academy against her father’s wishes. She’s highly decorated, and like Miguel who was killed when she was in college, she quickly rose through the ranks. Bella wants to become Chief of Detectives one day, but there are many ahead of her who could obtain the position in a few short years. She specifically aimed to work in narcotics to gain clues to find out who killed her brother. It’s been 12 years, and the case has moved onto Cold Case, one of the most inept units in the SMPD according to Bella. She has no use for personal relationships and sleeps with men whether married or not when it’s expedient for her and if it will help get what she needs for her career. Her mother badgers her to get married and encourages Bella to quit the force or take a desk job; neither of which Bella would do. Juan never wanted his daughter to become an officer as he doesn’t believe women should be on the force. Overall, Bella couldn’t care less what others think of her and her life choices, but in the back of her mind, if she could solve her brother’s murder, she might get the approval of her father she’s longed for. (See Bella’s full biography here and her first POV in chapter 2)

Natalia Vega –  One of the few non-law enforcement officers of the Vega family. She’s in her late twenties and works for the San Myshuno Panthers, an NFL team in their home office. Natalia has a degree in communications and strives to live the life of a socialite. She’s engaged to cornerback Montrell Sherman.

Manuel Vega – is the youngest of the Vega children, and there’s a wide gap between him and his oldest siblings. They often like to tease him saying he’s an “accident tube” baby because after Camila had Natalia, she had her tubes tied, but they grew back and unexpectantly she got pregnant with Manuel. He recently dropped out of college where he was majoring in business. Manuel feels closest to Bella because he admires her nonchalant attitude and does what she wants. Bella, on the other hand, finds her little brother to be annoying and spoiled. Once Manuel dropped out of college, his father refused to let him move back into the family home and cut him off financially. Camila on occasion gives her son money to cover his rent for an apartment he shares with roommates. Manuel likes staying out in the clubs every weekend and dates a different girl every week. But he’s unsure where life is going and doesn’t want to decide on a career right now. Juan is putting a lot of pressure on Manuel to grow up and get it together. He would like his son to join the academy since he’s no longer in school, but Manuel never had a desire to be a cop. He’ll need to make a decision soon or face his father’s wrath for years to come.

The United States of Carter

The Carters

The Carters are one of the most prominent black legacy families in the south and the DMV.  They are one of the founding members of  John&Jenn, an old societal club that formed during the Reconstruction period for black families that grouped together in their communities to support each other and fight for civil rights but on a much smaller scale than what came several decades later.

If the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts are what is considered WASPs blue-blooded American aristocracy, then the Carters, the Livaudaiss, and the Carmichaels were the “black equivalent.” While the J&Js legacy families are located in many states, their “unwritten” membership requirements and traditions are very southern. No one person could apply for membership. You either had to be brought in through family legacy, sponsored, or marry someone that was already in the organization.

Judge Corliss Carter sits on the bench of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second most powerful court in the country. He previously worked as a US attorney, Corliss received his presidential appointment ten years ago.

Secretary Clara Carter served in the last administration in the president’s cabinet as Secretary of the Interior. Since leaving the White House, Clara spends her time running The Carter Foundation in addition to consulting work and sitting on the board of The Kennedy Center.

Shaun Carter received his law degree from Yale and currently works as a DC lobbyist on K street for Hallow, Schlesinger & Reid, one of the most influential lobbying firms in Washington.

Shoshannah Carter splits her time between San Myshuno and DC as the co-chair of her father’s charitable organization “The Corliss Carter Heritage Foundation.” She’s also a director of the local John & Jenn organization and regularly hosts fundraisers and galas to benefit her family’s charities.

Shante Carter is a corporate attorney and business consultant. She regularly travels between San Myshuno, New York, and DC.

****Be sure to check out Shoshannah’s full biography and background information on the prestigious John & Jenn organization

*background credit freshwallpapers.net free backgrounds no copyright intended. 

 

Lupita Noriega Drives Up the Stakes for Power During The Cartel Wars

LUPITAGOPBIOSNu.png

Lupita has the Deviance Aspiration

Lupita’s traits are: Ambitious, Hot-Headed, and Materialistic

Lupita Noriega is the daughter of the ruthless and notorious leader of the Noriega Cartel that runs New Crest. She is second in command to her father, Carmine and is favored by him over her siblings, including her older more experienced brothers.

Since her father’s arrest and while he awaits trial, Lupita has been given the task of running The Noriega’s multi-state operations. It’s a demanding task for anyone, but Carmine has full confidence in his daughter’s abilities. Lupita is highly intelligent, speaks multiple languages,  and very business savvy. Born in Miami; she was educated at some of the best European boarding schools. Once she graduated early, she returned to the US and received a bachelor’s in Political Science from Yale University at 20 years old.

Lupita is extremely beautiful, charming and witty, but don’t let outward appearances fool you. She is as cutthroat and ruthless as her father and won’t hesitate to cut down anyone who presents as an enemy to the Noriegas. Lupita is known as Bonita Perra, and even men older than her are terrified of what she would do if they were to cross her. She has reason to be so protective of her family. When Lupita was in elementary school, she watched as assailants meant for her father stormed into their vacation home and shot down her mother, Griselda Reyes in cold blood.

The underworld has been in chaos for some time, ever since the events leading to the execution of San Myshuno boss, D.M. Sanders, everyone has been eager to take over the city and destroy the newly formed McQueen cartel that has claimed the four boroughs (Uptown, The Spice District, Fashion Row, and Art of the City) of San Myshuno.

While the other bosses of Willow Creek, Windenburg, and Oasis Springs are making moves to take out McQueen’s hold on San Myshuno, Lupita knows it’s a delicate time for her father’s operations. He is being charged with multiple federal and state crimes and he’s wanted in several countries. The other bosses know she’s vulnerable right now.

Lupita walks a fine line between upsetting other outfit leaders and keeping the Noriegas in control of New Crest. Don’t be mistaken, Lupita may not be jumping on the bandwagon to join the ensuing cartel wars yet, but she won’t hesitate to spill blood if her enemies get too close to home. She is waiting for just the right time to make her move on McQueen and his underbosses. She intends to play nice for now, for they won’t see her coming. The stakes are ever high, but Lupita is waiting on the sidelines until it’s time for her take her full position in the arena. All those in the underworld better get prepared because Lupita is a master at playing the game of power and she doesn’t like to lose.

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Officer Colton Johnson Is an Unwilling Player in The Game of Power

 

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Officer Colton Johnson

nature

Colton has the Jungle Explorer/Nature Aspiration

Colton’s traits are: Athletic, Dog Lover, and Loves Outdoors

Colton Johnson has been a patrol officer with the San Myshuno Police Department for the last four years. He previously served in the US Army, completed two tours in Afghanistan and was honorably discharged after six years of service.

As an Army veteran and officer of the law, Colton believes in honor and duty to his country and those he was sworn to protect and serve. His family comprises of several military and law enforcement members.

Coming out of the academy, Colton looked forward to serving communities and ridding neighborhoods of crime. As a patrol officer, he interacts with the community he serves every day and believes he can make a positive impact in the lives of the citizens of San Myshuno. His immediate goal is to obtain the rank of sergeant, but from there Colton doesn’t have a clear idea of where he wants his career to go. His father, Carl is a high ranking member in the department with aspirations for his son and plans to direct him into a leadership position one day, but he’s never shared his father’s ambition and thirst for power.

In the blink of an eye, Colton’s life changes forever, and he’s thrown into a game he’s never had any real ambition to play. How can one compete in a game if they no desire to play? Others have thrust their ambitions onto him either for their desires, agendas, or the wills of others.

Now that Colton is in the lion’s den, not of his choosing, he may have to do others bidding when it’s never been something he’s wanted for himself. Will the game ultimately destroy him or will he find a way to play even it means giving up his dreams?

****Author’s Note: As you can probably tell, this character biography has less information and is shorter than some of my others. Although I believe the detailed biographies of Bash, Bella, Rico, and Ayana were fine, I did edit some of the information on Marquez out because I didn’t want to give too much of his storyline away. I am doing the same with Colton. Depending on the characters and what they all contribute to GOP, some of their biographies may be more or less detailed than others. I know for a fact, some will have more background information on them, but others I plan on keeping condensed to general information.****

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Marquez “Big Meech” Flex Makes a Power Play to Win the Cartel Wars

 Marquez “Big Meech” Flex

Marquez had the Deviance Aspiration

Marquez’s traits are: Ambitious, Insider, and Romantic

Marquez “Big Meech” Flex is a mid-level underboss in the newly formed McQueen cartel. Ever since the execution of former boss D.M. Sanders by unknown assailants, there’s been a power grab over territory within the four boroughs in San Myshuno: The Spice District, Uptown, Fashion Row, and Art of the City. Not only are smaller factions on the rise and seeking to take over, but the bosses from the surrounding cities know that San Myshuno is ripe for the pickings.

Outside cartels threaten Lamar McQueen’s reign as the new boss. Meech and his crew; The Thetas report directly to McQueen. Pressure is starting to build within the organization as there are many including the Thetas who feel disenfranchised by McQueen’s erratic actions and increasingly ineffective operations.

Lamar was a mentor to Marquez and showed him the ropes of the business when he was a lowly street hustler. But Lamar has made questionable decisions in the last several months that have resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in product across the region, not to mention choices that have cost the lives of loyal members and those Marquez considered family.

 

You have to crawl before you can walk. Marquez is all about his paper and power and will use any and all means to cut down the competition in the cartel wars. They won’t see him coming for Marquez knows all too well how to play the game of power.

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Will Ayana Dinha Survive The Game of Power?

Ayana has the Family Aspiration

Ayana’s traits are: Good, Family-Oriented, and Cheerful

Introducing Ayana Dinha

Ayana Dinha is a former top fashion model who founded S.H.E magazine, an online publication shortly after she retired from full-time modeling. Ayana has always wanted something she could build from the ground up and make a success of it. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia before immigrating with her family to the United States at five years old. Ayana’s parents, Ahmed and Faizah Tesfaye have successful careers in the STEM field, and her siblings are headed along the same path.

The Tesfayes didn’t approve her choice to quit college midway through her freshman year to become a full-time model. They thought she’d come to her senses once she told them she had retired from the business, but they were appalled once their daughter told them of her plans to sink most of her savings into a fashion and lifestyle magazine. Ayana is very sensitive to her parent’s feelings, but it would be hard for her to live the life they want for her when she’s always dreamed of publishing her own magazine.

Everything Ayana makes from ad revenue goes back into the magazine. If it weren’t for her best friend and fellow editor, Parminder Patel who comes from a wealthy Punjabi family, giving her money each month, Ayana would not be able to keep a roof over her head. The Tesfayes have money, but they refuse to support Ayana in what they see as foolishness. Ethiopians are very proud people, so when Ayana began working for different fashion houses scantily dressed, she brought shame on her family. Her father didn’t even speak to her for nearly a year once she dropped out of college.

Ayana’s greatest fear is that her magazine will fail and prove her parents and other family members right. When she came over to the US, Ayana dived right into American culture, particularly Black American culture, so much, so she saw it as more of her own than the Ethiopian culture she was born into. Ahmed and Faizah were distraught when they saw their middle daughter turning her nose up at their customs and ways. They didn’t approve of the American guys she brought home during high school nor most of her friends. Ayana even stopped speaking their language to her parents, breaking her mother’s heart. It’s not easy for Faizah to talk to her daughter, she doesn’t get why Ayana can’t be like her sister, Fana and do what is expected of her. Faizah suffered immensely to get to where she is today and never wanted her daughters to go through what she did before she left home. Now that Ayana is throwing her life away, it’s a slap to her face for all of her hard work.

One thing Ayana has always had a talent for was getting men to fall at her feet. She learned from an early age how easy it was for boys to men to throw themselves at her and do just about anything to please her. She desires to have true love in her life, but she is never sure if a man is dating her purely based on what is on the outside. More than one gentlemen of means have offered to give her magazine the exposure it desperately needs. Ayana’s beauty is her asset, but it is also a hindrance in many ways because men find out that she’s in great need of help, help only they can give her, so they use it as a possible opportunity to bed her. However, Ayana’s beauty could be the only card she has to play. If she sacrificed her integrity, how could she look at herself in the mirror each day? Would the ends justify the means if it meant getting what she wanted; fame and success?

Ayana considers herself to be a classic model and she prefers the tried and true institutions and platforms of high fashion. Now, every Instagram girl claims to be a model. Ayana could not be more disgusted with the barrage of IG models, the ones with silicone butt implants, filtered pictures and several pounds of makeup. Whatever happened to real and natural beauty? Not only are the social media girls’ platforms getting larger by the day, but designers are also now flocking to many of them to wear their clothes or sign a branding deal with them. S.H.E and Ayana’s personal Instagram doesn’t even have as many followers as many of the “models” that are getting exposure and attention Ayana feels her magazine should be getting. She gets it, most of the people who follow those girls, are young everyday round-the-way girls, who believe with weave, ass shots, and good Facetune, they too could get millions of followers and get paid by companies eager to endorse them. Their looks and “beauty” isn’t anything special nor is it natural. Ayana was blessed with exquisite natural beauty that millions of women and girls pay thousands of dollars for. She embraces her looks and knows many women covet her features, so she doesn’t feel guilty for making money off her own vanity and allowing her to step into spaces most people could only dream about.

Every day it’s a struggle for S.H.E as Ayana fights for designers to send over their creations for a review, getting companies to advertise on the website, and fighting with Parminder about the content they should be showcasing. Parminder knows that Ayana needs to get her head out of the clouds; thinking S.H.E will be on the same level as Vogue or ELLE. If Ayana wants to get more viewership, she is going to have to market to the online social media crowd, no matter how much it pains her to do so. Ayana has a lot of pride and doesn’t want to sully her brand with the IG aesthetic, but her tunnel vision only allows her to focus on the more low brow side of social media modeling.

As an idealistic person and purist, Ayana’s methods are not cutting it in the cutthroat world of fashion publishing. She could barely deal with the backstabbing when she was a model. Usually, she has been the type to stick her head in the ground when she didn’t want to deal with something or give up when the fight got too tough. Ayana refuses to give up her dream, but if she doesn’t start getting in the game, making the right connections with the power players that can get her what she needs, Ayana will inevitably fail, and her family would look at her as the disappointment they believe she is.

One thing is for sure, if Ayana is unwilling to put her game face on and make changes to take S.H.E to the next level, she’ll pass on her one chance at success and lose the game. A lot of other players are more skilled than her, and they are willing to do whatever it takes, no matter what; something she may not be cut out for. As Ayana will soon begin to discover as her ambitious drive grows, she could be capable of almost anything to get what she wants. The world is waiting to see if Ayana can step up and survive the game of power.

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